The exact makeup of the plastic is determined by the biomass produce which it is fed, meaning a crop like hemp, containing an unusual concentration of cellulose, a critical component in market-grade plastic, proves advantageous in production. PHA’s are being created using the excess organic waste of producers by companies such as Full Cycle Bioplastics, and gaining traction in the market. PHA’s share many qualities with polyethylene and polypropylene, and are entirely compostable, meaning they’re both created and consumed by naturally occurring bacteria.
Hemp is grown for textiles, fuels, and CBD, among other purposes, and each use case means significant opportunity for hemp-based PHA’s. Alongside this new development, hemp also delivers advantages in traditional bioplastics. Hemp’s robust crop structure means it can (and is) commonly grown without the use of damaging pesticides and fertilizers. In fact, there are no registered pesticides for the crop in Ontario! Organically grown hemp has the potential to eliminate chemical imbalances in ocean waters found from conventional plastic. While this doesn’t solve the problem of degradation time, it provides what bioplastics need most; interest.
For traditional bioplastics to supply effective market products, recycling infrastructure will need to develop at a faster rate in North America. A new consumer and a new focus on true sustainability indicates a trend in the right direction.
Where public opinion goes, money usually follows.